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David Harvey - Das Kapital PT01 (LEG PT-BR)

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. Ok, it's my turn. The only problem I have - this is a wonderful event... And I'm very, very pleased to be here after nearly forty years since I've been here. And your city has indeed changed a lot. In some ways I suppose. When you drive and pass through all of the shopping malls... Coming from the airport I think that you can see that this is a capitalist transformation. Not necessarily a popular transformation. The only sense of discomfort I have is I feel like I'm sitting on a throne. And since I hate monarchy I expect an assassin's bullet any minute. I think that - I don't know what... Is this ok!? It's... - I think what I want to do is to... Try to talk a little bit about the consequences of this event, which is really... I'll tell you what: why don't we use this? I'll use this. Yes, I use this. Ok. I really wanted to talk about the consequences of this double event which is... In my view both hopeful and also positive. And since we don't have many positive and hopeful events to talk about these days, I think. I hope you are join with me in celebrating it. Well, what we are celebrating is the publication of a new translation of Marx's Capital - Vol. I. By Boitempo. Now, I don't read portuguese... But I reliable inform that this translation is far, far superior to that which went before. And it has the most updated versions of Capital including a great deal of information... About where the text came from. So, this is - if you like - a very positive development. It's accompanied by the hopeful thought that you might actually read it. And learn from it. And from that perspective you have a little help I hope from me. With the translation of my own companion to Marx's Capital under the title "Para Entender o Capital". This book that I wrote was a transcription of the series of lectures... Which are available free on the web, if you so wish. A gather that there are some of the lectures now have portuguese subtitles. So that you can use those or you could use this in order to get through this. The other thing I would say to you that might be a glimmer of hope to you if you're younger: Is that I actually didn't start reading Marx until I was 35 years old. And now I'm a little bit of an expert on the topic... So if you start a few years earlier than me you'll be far ahead of me by the time you get at my age. I started reading it for one very simple reason. Not because I was born a marxist or had parents who were marxists. Or because I was in a potical party that was marxist. I started reading it just as looking for some explanations that I coudn't find elsewhere. I have moved from Britain to the US in 1969... Throughout the 1960's there had been in the US a whole series of urban rebelions. Uprisings in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York... And the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Lutherking in 1968... Something alike hundred and twenty cities in the US... Experienced serious unrest. The city of Baltimore to which I went... had a large chunk that was burned down... Tanks has been sent into the city to control or arrest population. They had in fact been a whole series then, of urban rebellions. And as often happens there are two responses to events of this kind: One was a sort of a right wing, repressive - let's just get the military and put everybody in jail - response. And the other was: Well... We should try to use the police to stop this situation... To calm the situation. But we should really try to find out why these rebelions are been happening. And I became involved therefore in a reasearch effort... Trying to figure it out... How and why these cities had erupted in the violent ways they had. In the process, I brought to bare, on this research effort... A whole set of skills. In the social sciences and in statistical analysis and all the rest of it. Which was supposed to give me the tools to understand what it happened and why. And I increasingly found these tools were completely useless. That they really didn't help at all. In fact, they were a hindrance than a help. So I started looking around for some other way to think about the problem. And somebody sad to me: Well, maybe you should read Karl Marx. So I thought: Well, ok. I'm an academic. I'm curious. Let me go read Karl Marx. And there were some graduated students who thought it was a good idea. So we set down, about ten of us... And we tried on arrow without any instruction to read this book. The only conclusion we came to at the end of the year having spent the year reading the book was... That we had not understood a thing. We hadn't the slightest idea what this is all about. Now, there are two things you can whit that: you can either thrown the book away... Or you can say: well, maybe I'll do it again and see what happens. So, we did it again the following year. And the second time through it really began to make a lot of sense. But a lot of sense in its own terms. And in its own terms were the conditions prevailing... mainly in England in Marx's lifetime in the 1850's and in the 1860's. A lot of what he said in vol. I of Capital... Didn't seem to fit very well with the world where there is a strong welfare state. Where the state was intervening in the economy. Where it was not purely competitive capitalism, it was monopoly capitalism. In other words... The world that we are living in is not the same world that Marx described. And so... There was some difficulty in taking Marx's ideas and using them to come to directly understand what was going on, in the society around us. One thing I can assure you of right now... Is that that problem does not exist today. Because over the last thirty or forty years of neoliberalism... We have gone back to that world that Marx described. So that actually when you read this book now you get recognition page after page, after page. And this I can tell you from teaching it for forty years: When I first started, I was trying to explain to people... Well, it doesn't quite fit but you know... Let's think more deeply about how we can use some of the ideas. Now, I don't have to make that argument at all. I can take descriptions of the labor processes in China, in Bangladesh... And I can put them in Marx's chapter on the working day where he describes... The conditions of labor in the english working class... And you wouldn't know the difference. You could take descriptions of... What it is like in the Bangladesh factory producing cloting... for wall-mart, and the other major stores in the US. Where some two hundred people died because they locked the doors and the fire just spreaded like crazy. Those are the sorts of things that he mentioned in Capital Vol. I. And those are the things that are occouring around us today. But back then it was still a little bit difficult... To make the argument that this work made sense. But I got a great deal of encouragement in my understanding of... Marx and of its relevance. I've found a very strange source. I was working a lot on the condition of housing in Baltimore... In the late 1960's, early 1970's. I was colecting a lot of information... I was talking about what is going on through housing finance. What was going on through landlordism... What was going on through tenent's movements and public housing... I was talking about all of these things. I was talking about federal public policies... And I had to write a big report. And submit this report to the bankers, to the landlords, to the federal officials and the city officials. And I started the report by saying: Well... You really need to think about housing from two perspectives. One, is you have to think about housing as a use value. What is it useful for? And you could think about all sorts of things that housing is useful for. For shelter, for constructing an affective family life. For creating social relations. For securing a certain privacy... So housing has a set of useful values which are fundational for people's daily living. And I said but the other side of it is housing has an exchange value. That is it takes a certain amount to build it; a certain amount to maintaining it. A certain amount to gain access to it. So, there are two systems at work here: One is an use value system and the other is an exchange value system. And the problem is that the exchange value system is organized, in such a way... As to not provide adequate use values to a large segment of the population. So the challenge for all of us is to think about a different structuring of the exchange value system... To provide adequate use values to the mass of the population. And then we wont have riots in the streets because these such lousy housing conditions. And I went through this analysis and went through this... And the bankers said: God! That's a great way to look at things. But the landlords said: You know... We thought you were an economist and we are gonna talk about demand and suply and all that kind of rubbish. This is a great way to think about it. The city authorities said: This is a great way to think about it. And then somebody said to me: Where did you get it from!? I did not dare say it's page one of Marx's Capital - Vol. I. But it is. If I had said that, they probably would have all said: Let's leave. There's a ghost in the room. Karl Marx is alive. Oh my god, he's gonna kill us all. He's gonna put us all in prison. So I never mentioned a word about where the whole idea came from. But they thought it was great. And I thought: You know... If Marx's basic category on the page one of Capital make so much sense to so many people so easily... When all of the economics text books don't make any sense whatsoever... Then I'm gonna stick with Marx and I'm gonna find out more about what Marx has to say.

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 25 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 62
Posted by: renan.ferreira on Dec 19, 2014

O Geógrafo David Harvey esteve em Salvador para apresentar a conferência "Para entender 'O capital'", por ocasião do lançamento de seu livro homônimo.

O evento integra o projeto "Marx: a criação destruidora", organizado em torno da publicação da edição definitiva de "O capital, Livro 1", pela Boitempo Editorial.

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